Let’s face it, you can get any song you want free thanks to the internet, however if you’re looking to support independent music, then there are plenty of legal music downloads sites that you can get your fix from
While streaming services like Spotify do make it easier to listen to some of your favourite tracks for free, that’s still dependent on your connection so nothing beats having the song available on your device
Thankfully, there are still a host of excellent websites that allow you to legally download and locally store your music free of charge. Most of the music that you find on these sites will be from independent artists showcasing music from any genre you can think of. You will definitely find some gems to keep your ears happy.
Free Music Archive
Back in 2009, a New Jersey-based WFMU Radio embarked on a project to make contemporary music of all genres available to the public, and the Free Music Archive was born.
Inspired by Creative Commons and the open source software movement, the FMA provides a legal and technological framework for curators, artists, and listeners to harness the potential of music sharing. Every artist page will have a bio and links to the artists’ home page for users to learn more about the music they discover via the Free Music Archive. We also seek to compensate artists directly where possible. Artist, album and song profiles may contain links to buy the full album from the artist and/or label’s preferred vendor(s).
NoiseTrade is part free music site, part promotion platform. You can download any individual track or album an independent artist uploads to the site, if, in turn, you generously supply them with your email address and postal code. The freemium promotion platform also encourages you to spread the word about artists you like via Facebook and Twitter, while also giving you the option to quickly tip the artist. The site’s user interface is remarkably clean and simple, allowing you to effortlessly search or browse artists within a visual hub loaded with recommendations and complimentary mixtapes that cover a wide swath of genres, along with corresponding links for connecting you with artists’ social media pages and management.
I bet you never knew that Amazon had a bargain bin of free MP3 music downloads. The nice thing about Amazon’s list of freebies is that you can easily browse it by genre, and it even tells you how many free tracks there are within each category.
The only tricky part is finding the free music in the first place. To get to all the freebies, go to Movies, Music & Games > Digital Music > Deals > Free. Like most of Amazon’s wares, you can also sort its vast selection of MP3s based on average customer reviews,.
Jamendo bills itself as “the world’s largest digital service for free music download”.
Since the beginning in 2005, Jamendo’s music has been licensed under Creative Commons licenses. Applied to all songs, these licenses allow artists to publish their music and preserve their rights while providing users the freedom to download it for free and redistribute at least non-commercially, with other permissions varying by license. The goal of Jamendo is to be the link between artists who want to share their music and audiences around the world, both private and professional [
Popularity is based on user ratings, so despite the massive amount of tracks on the site, you don’t have to spend a lot of time searching before you find stuff that pleases your ears. To be sure, the site’s penchant for lesser-known artists and experimental tracking make it more suited for someone with an open mind than one who knows exactly what they want.
Urban Outfitters Music publishes a feature known as “LSTN,” offering customers a 20-song sampler encompassing songs from both newcomers to the field and some of the more established independent acts. The downloadable playlist is accessibly from the UO Music site, and though you can only stream past mix tapes, the latest playlist is always available free of charge. Regardless of your personal music taste, the Urban Outfitters’ playlists serve as brief glimpses into the world of independent, contemporary music.
Live Music Archive
Live Music Archive is essentially a partnership between Internet Archive and etree.org, a community dedicated to providing high-quality, lossless versions of live concerts. They provide a host of recordings from a wide variety of bands like The Smashing Pumpkins, Jack Johnson, Animal Collective, etc. along with plenty of genres to browse ranging from folk to reggae.
Once you find a particular recording you like, you can often stream or download the individual tracks as a mp3. Of course as it’s live recordings, the quality of what yo hear is down to the performance of the act which is not always up to par to be fair.
Pure Volume is credited as being the first independently run website of its type, allowing for the upload and streaming of music
The main purpose of the website is to facilitate the discovery and promotion of new music and emerging artists while giving artists a new promotion tool and platform. Each artist has a profile that typically contains basic info, updates, photos, shows and music for streaming. Artists have the option of making each of their songs available for free download, while listeners and fans are able to create profiles to interact with artists and each other, as well as track and share music they like.
Epitonic is a source for independent music across multiple genres from both signed and unsigned artists. Featuring free and legal MP3 music downloads, radio streams, and many full album streams, at its peak it amassed content from more than 400 independent labels and represented a diverse array of artists howeverEpitonic has seen its fair share of ups and downs. The site initially launched in 1999 as a music discovery and editorial platform, but was sadly forced to shut down in 2004 due to financial woes. It re-launched with the aid of Kickstarter in 2011, bringing with it the same premise upon which it was originally founded.
SoundOwl bills itself as a platform for musicians, labels, and blogs to distribute their music, and the site makes it explicitly clear that users are only allowed to share tracks that they have either created themselves or have secured the rights to distribute. In the case of music blogs, they can only share music that has been provided to them by record labels or artists with the express intent of making a free download available for promotional purposes. To ensure that users don’t upload tunes that aren’t theirs, they’ve partnered with Copyseeker to catch violators and remove copyrighted material.
All tracks can be previewed before you download them, and the site provides buttons for sharing on Facebook, Twitter, or saving tracks as ringtones for your phone. While most of their catalogue is made up of music from independent musicians, they’ve also got a pretty sizable collection of popular tunes from big-name artists including some unreleased remixes of popular songs.
With all these resources at your fingertips, I’m sure some people will still find it necessary to seek out illegal music downloads sites, but if you want to continue to empower independent music creation, then take a look at some of these sites and see which one fits your style.